LIVE: Erica Jordan-Thomas

How to Pay Our Teachers More

In Erica’s classroom, she was changing the world. Teaching is one of the most patriotic acts in this country. But as a teacher, she didn’t feel patriotic. She felt broke. Struggling on a salary of $33,000. She knew this was her life’s work and purpose and wanted to create a different reality for our teachers. So she became a principal.

This requires us to look at school a little bit differently.

Beyonce. She is exactly what Erica thinks about when she thinks about school differently. Think about all of the different venues she has performed. So how does she get access from them? She has released 6 solo albums. Each one of them went straight to #1. So there is a 100% probability that if Beyonce drops an album tomorrow, it will be #1. Beyonce empowers people. She has a huge impact. We want her to reach as many people as possible.

Great data leads to access to a larger venue which leads to a greater impact.

There are Beyonce educators in every single school building in the form of mind blowing results from their students. They should have more access and more of an impact.

At Ransom IB Middle School, 65% of their scholars come in below grade level. How can we rethink our venues and place every child in front of a Beyonce educator while paying that educator more?

And at Ransom IB, Erica is doing that.

Mr. Myles had some of the highest science grades in the district. But, he was only reaching 120 students. Today, he reaches 937 scholars, which is 100% of their school population.

5 years ago, they partnered with Public Impact and created an opportunity culture. This expands the reach of affective educators while paying that educator more. They have Multi Classroom Leaders to do lead a teacher team. He creates all of the lesson plans for the science department. He also serves as the instructional coach for 5 science teachers and has one on one meetings with each teacher every week. And Mr. Myles still gets to be a teacher. Every week, Mr. Myles sits down with his teachers and determine what students need extra help. Then Mr. Myles teaches these students a customized lesson plan.

Black males make up for less than 2% of the teaching profession. But at Ransom IB, 1 in 3 students is a black boy. They are expanding the opportunity for their students to see themselves in their teacher.

A second position created was a Blended Learning Teacher. Students at all levels in Ms. Waylin’s classroom had high levels of achievement. She has two groups in her classroom. One group would be learning the curriculum while the other ones would be on the computer. Halfway through the class, they switched.

So how does this pay our teachers more?

Erica receives her budget every school year and through her flexibility she can add at least 16,000 on to their teacher based salary. And this does not cost her or the district more. And it doesn’t go away (like some grant supplement programs).

What’s been the impact of opportunity culture in their building? The staff members are happier. The teachers truly value the support of their MCL. They aren’t staying up late at night figuring out what they’re going to teach the next day. They’re helping work-life balance. Their teachers are getting better faster. When our teachers get better, our kids get better. And most importantly, our kids are learning. And they are ranking for that in the district.

Every single day, parents send their greatest gift to a teacher. The fate of this country rests on the shoulders of our teachers. The leaders of tomorrow are sitting in classrooms today with our teachers. If we do not change the way we pay our teachers, more teachers will continue to leave the profession.



Erica currently serves as Principal of Ranson IB Middle School, a Title I school in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District that has exceed growth expectations defined by the state for the past two years. Under her leadership, Ranson IB was ranked #2 in the district for their growth in ELA and #3 in the district for their growth in science. As Principal of Ranson IB, Erica serves almost 1000 scholars and oversees over 100 staff members. Prior to serving as Principal, Erica served as Assistant Principal at Ranson IB for three years.

As a member of New Leaders-Charlotte Cohort 11, Erica served as Resident Principal at Reid Park Academy during its transition to a Pre-K-8 school. Under her leadership, 100% of Reid Park 8th graders enrolled in Algebra I passed the Algebra I end-of-course exam.Prior to joining New Leaders, Erica served as a Program Director for Teach For America–Charlotte. Erica was a 2008 Teach For America Corps Member and taught math at Olympic Renaissance High School. While teaching at Olympic Renaissance, Erica increased standardized test scores by 78% in Algebra II and 54% in Geometry.

Erica was named one of Charlotte Agenda’s “30 Under 30”. She holds a Masters in Instructional Leadership from Relay Graduate School of Education. She is a board member for Teach For America-Charlotte and the Collective National Advisory Board, Teach For America’s National Alumni of Color Association. Erica grew up in Columbus, Ohio and attended Columbus Public Schools. A proud buckeye, Erica graduated from The Ohio State University with a B.A. in Textiles and Clothing and a minor in Business Administration.